Monday, March 16, 2009

No Excuses

Not Going Dark, Just...

Don’t expect any more blog posts for a couple of weeks. More important for me to finish off the novel rewrite. Posting here takes time and it’s in very short supply right now.

No excuses, I'm writing, just not posting it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Literary Agents Search

If you write and want to be published or produced (in the case of film), then you know the biggest job is getting representation.

Believe it or not, over 100 years ago, agents didn't really exist. Writers contacted newspaper, magazine or book publishers about publication. You might get a deal to do an article or a contract, if there was a series involved.

Now you have agents who specialize. Some won't touch poetry, others screenplays. I can understand this, as the literary world is now much more complex than in the days of Mark Twain.

Which is OK, if you're a writer who only works in a specific format or genre.

I like to work in all forms of word and story construction. Whether it's Haiku, poetry, short stories, novellas, screenplays or novels, I've written them all. Blogs, websites and tech manuals can now be added to the resume.

No matter what you write, finding an agent you can work with is of supreme importance. I've never pushed myself to get an agent, until now. It's a time consuming process, but one which, if done right, can result in a long-term relationship.

Actually, it's more of a team than a one-on-one relationship. After all, you have the writer, the agent, the editor and the publisher/producer.

Having a Muse is optional.

I'm ready to find and work with an 'A-Team'.

Have Muse, will travel.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cut to the Chase...Agents and Rewrites

There won't be a follow-up post about the fire down the road. It would take too much space. The 'blog post' I wrote about it came in around 3,000 words. More a short story than a blog post.

Too much to do, getting ready for Spring planting. Already have some things done, but need to get more seed beds started and the garden ready. Plan on putting in a new orchard, mainly plum trees, but may try to add a few pear trees.

The 'to do' list at the shop is more a 'to do catalogue'. I'm still engineering the dump truck tailgate. This is not your usual tailgate. It's going to both tilt and swing open. It's a real workout to move the 40x92 inch tailgate around to make things fit and work correctly. Who needs time in the gym?

The novel rewrite is progressing, if that's a proper term for my slogging through mud pace. I'm now at the same spot I was back in January, before I lost the file. Time to put my foot down and increase speed.

Agents? Still reading blogs and doing research. If you're interested in representing me, don't hesitate to contact me.

Like any good gambler will tell you, "You can't win, if you don't play."

Place your bets!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fractures and Fires

What a week. Glad it's about over.

Since my last post, I cracked/broke a couple of bones in my left foot. Working on the dump truck tailgate, a large piece of angle iron dropped from the truck bed. My foot didn't get out of the way in time. Landed just above the steel-toe part of my work boots.

Nothing like 30+ pounds of steel falling four feet to land on your foot! It was more than an 'ouch' moment.

This led to me hobbling around the farm and shop the past couple of weeks. You can't stop, just because your foot looks like a blue-black lump.

Thought that I got a reprieve this past Wednesday. Rain was forecast, but we mainly got high winds, up to around 50MPH. I checked out the window, looked east, storm clouds. Went out the front door, stood on the porch, looked west. More storm clouds. Some were really low, blowing across the road. Hmmm, white, not dark gray.

That's when I realized the field up the road was on fire. Right next to my neighbor's house.

I'm still writing the post on the fire. More later.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Shiver or Sweat

You have to love winter weather in the Midwest, actually, I might now qualify for the Southeast, but it's borderline.

In the past two weeks, it's been in the mid--60's and down to the mid-teens. Add in rain, sleet, ice, snow and light breezes in the 30-35 mile per hour range. Variations that happen within a 48 hour period. A weather roller coaster, repeat each week until dizzy. You get the idea, perfect weather to get sick as a dog.

I've spent the time either painting, welding, cutting firewood or rewriting the novel. Very little time left for the blogosphere.

When it's too cold, too hot or too wet to work outside, then I get a chance to catch up on my blogs.

Which at this rate means that I'm only a couple of years behind on blog posts.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Uncle Red's Anvil

You never know what you’ve got, until you take a close look at it. Like with a magnifying glass.

A few years back, after my great-uncle Red passed away, his son began to sell off all his tools and farm equipment. Which to me was sacrilege. Tools are something that are useful forever, until you either wear them out or break them. Sell the tools that have been in the family, keeping things working, generating income, feeding your face? No way.

Terry offered me first shot at his stuff. Red had been a well known mechanic around these parts. If he couldn’t fix it, it was broke forever. Junk it and move on. Looking over his tools, I passed on most of them, I had a lot of the same tools already, except for the anvil.

I’ve never had an anvil. Always wanted one. Great for hammering out metal into whatever shape you can imagine. For years I used an old piece of railroad track rail, a cut-off piece I found beside a track. OK for small stuff, but not a real anvil.

A real one is massive. Rather hard to move around though. You don’t just snatch it up and toss it into the back of the car or pick-up truck. If it’s a good anvil, it’s a two men and a boy job.

Being about 6 foot 4, Terry is no puppy, I took the light end of the anvil. We maneuvered it into the back of my truck, I took it to the shop. It’s easy to unload something when all you have to do is lower it to the ground. Then I dragged it into the tractor shed.

Where it has sat for the past couple of years, on the shop floor, under a workbench. One of those ‘get around to it’ jobs. I either needed to weld up a stand or find a nice tree stump, like from an oak or walnut tree, to make a stand for the anvil. Get it up in the air where it would be at a good working height.

About a year ago, I cut down a red oak, pretty good sized tree. As I was chain-sawing it into firewood, I realized it would make a good anvil stand. The firewood was stacked and the stump was forgotten about, other projects to do at the time.

While working on a painting project a few weeks ago, I ‘found’ the old anvil, which reminded me about the stump. With some heavy metal projects coming up, I decided I had wasted enough time working without a real anvil. The red oak stump was trued up, cut parallel and then a section was cut off, at the right height for me.

The anvil was dragged to the center of the shop floor. Where I slowly raised it to the height of the oak anvil stand by levering it up on stacks of wood., adding pieces until it was high enough for me to grab it and move it onto the stand. Which is when I found out that the anvil overhung the stand by an inch on every side! ARRGGGH!

Which is why you measure twice and cut once. The trusty ‘micrometer eye’, able to measure nanometers on the fly, had misjudged the size. Damn big anvil.

If I had cut the tree stump four inches lower, I would have been in good shape. I used the rest of the stump for a chopping block, so it’s too short for an anvil stand.

I looked it over once it was on the stand. That’s when I noticed all the marks on it. Casting marks, pin-punch indentations made by hand, the scars of hammer strikes from the metal worked on it. A faint casting mark that appears to read “100 LB”. Which wouldn’t surprise me. It felt like a ton moving it.

I’ve already used the anvil and it works great. When you hammer out something on it, it’s got a beautiful, bell-like ring to it. A tonal quality that can’t be expressed with words.

When the old man came down last week, I asked him about the anvil. Did he have any idea about where it came from? Was it off the old farm, from my great-grandfather? He didn’t know for sure, but thought that it might have come from this farm. Which means that it may have traveled full circle.

I’m gonna take some chalk and see if I can ’read’ those casting marks. They don’t make anvils like they used to and I would like to find out more about this one. It’ll be around for many more years.

You ever wear one out or break one, then you know you’ve done a helluva job. To do it would take more than a lifetime. Maybe a half-dozen.

Add a hammer and a piece of metal, you can make almost anything. With every strike of the hammer, the anvil sings a new song.

Real heavy metal music.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008, Goodbye!

What a year!

Big gap between this and my last blog post. Didn't mean to be gone so long. A few unexpected incidents, some dealt with, others avoided.

Was cranking along on my novel rewrite, about 25% done and the file became corrupted. Usually, I back these up, this time, I was in a hurry, going to come back to it...when I did...nothing.

My own fault, got out of my routine and paid for it. The good thing about this? I found a book that I should have read about 6 months ago, have been reading it and it will help my novel a great deal. Which means that I would have been doing another rewrite anyway, IF I found this book. The reason I found it was because I was angry and depressed about losing the novel draft file, so went to the library. IF I hadn't gotten angry and stopped working on the rewrite, I might never have found this book. The rewrite is coming along great now.

Farm work? It never stops. I'm cutting fire wood for the new wood stove and it eats it like there is no tomorrow. The other farm projects never end. I could write a book about that alone.

Close calls...almost too many to think about. On the way to the store the other night, came around a curve. Bambi and his sister were standing in the road. I slammed on the brakes, put the truck sideways and counter-steered to go between the two deer. Missed the one on the right by about two feet and the one on the left by about the same margin. Good thing there wasn't any oncoming traffic, since I wound up in the left lane, coasting. I had hit the brakes so hard, before shoving in the clutch, that I stalled the engine. Probably rolled about two hundred feet before I realized that the motor was dead and restarted it. You don't even want to hit a deer of any size. You could both wind up dead.

Then I stuck the 4X4 pickup in the pine grove the other day. Bogged down in mud up to it's axles. Which meant towing it out with the tractor. A small tractor, one that's about a third the size of the truck. You ever try to drive a truck and a tractor at the same time? One towing the other backwards? I won't go into how I did it. It might give someone ideas and lead to them getting hurt. When I told a friend of mine about it, all he could say was, "YOU'RE CRAZY!" Yeah, OK, but I lived to tell about it.

So, 2008 was pretty much a strange year, for me and the world in general. Now that it's behind us, time to get on with 2009.

After all, we ain't dead yet, so it's got off to a good start!

Have a great 2009!